On February 23, the Saeima (Latvian Parliament) adopted the law “On the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part”. Latvia thereby becomes the first European Union Member State which has completed domestic ratification procedures with regard to CETA.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs urged MPs to support CETA, as the advantages offered by the agreement will promote Latvia’s exports to Canada, open new export opportunities and provide Latvian companies with valuable experience of operating in the North American market. CETA is also essential for the strengthening of bilateral relations between Latvia and Canada.
The application of CETA will bring a number of significant and tangible benefits for Latvia’s exporters and service providers. By this agreement, tariffs will be eliminated on 99% of Canadian tariff lines, Canada will substantially open up its services market and Latvian companies will have access to public procurement markets in Canada. Provisions on the recognition of professional qualifications will offer greater opportunities for our service providers in the regulated professions, while the mutual recognition in conformity assessment will remove the need for a repeated product certification in Canada.
Today, Latvia welcomes a working visit from the Minister of International Trade of Canada, François-Philippe Champagne, who attended the Saeima session together with the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs to have a first-hand insight into the process of the ratification of CETA by Parliament.
Latvia’s export to Canada has been progressively increasing over the recent years, and Latvia for many years in a row has had positive trade balance. In 2016 Latvia exported goods to Canada worth EUR 18 million, which exceeded the figures for 2015 by 16%. Main export commodities are telecommunication equipment, food products, textiles, fish, chocolate, glass fibres, optical fibres, and furniture. Imports in 2016 amounted to EUR 9.6 million, main products being radar apparatus, pharmaceuticals, parts for aircraft, and iron containers.
The trade negotiations between the EU and Canada were launched in May 2009, and the agreement was signed on 30 October 2016. On 15 February 2017, it was approved by the European Parliament. The draft has already been considered in its first reading by the Canadian Parliament. Consequently, in terms of procedures, CETA could be provisionally applied in the first half of this year.